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Wallpaper 



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in the Collection 
of the 

Cooper-Hewitt 
Museum 



APR 4 to 



The Smithsonian 
Institution's 
National Museum 
of Design 



Cover: 

Geometric wallpaper pattern; block-printed in 

distemper colors on joined sheets of paper 
France; late eighteenth or early nineteenth century 
The distance between the centers of the stars is 

5 3 /e inches. 
Purchased in memory of Mrs. Gustav E. Kissel, 

1 949-144-2 



© 1981 by the Smithsonian Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog No. 81-652.5 

Catalogue design by Heidi Humphrey 
Typesetting by Gerard Associates, Inc. 
Printing by Eastern Press 



T*C\YP1J JC\Yf\ From its beginnings to recent pop art 

t>H/l^// 1* and super-graphic manifestations, wall- 

paper has offered a fascinating reflection of 
styles and fluctuating taste in the broader 
world of decorative arts. One of the 
largest and most comprehensive collections 
of wallpaper in the world has been as- 
sembled by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. 

Over 6,000 catalogued items gathered 
over fourscore years include genuine 
leather wallcoverings tooled by 17th cen- 
tury artisans in Flanders, Oriental hand 
painted papers and canvas, fine American, 
English, French, and other European 
printed papers, and composition and vinyl 
coverings. Salesmen's sample books, sten- 
cils, screens, block, and rollers are all 
part of the collection. 

The Wallpaper Department of the 
Cooper-Hewitt provides a centralized re- 
search facility for architectural historians, 
restorationists, students, designers, and 
others who are interested in studying the 
development of wallpaper design inter- 
nationally. The Department has been 
strongly supported by the trade. This pub- 
lication was made possible through the 
kindness of Brunschwig & Fils, Inc. — 
longtime friends of the Museum. 



Lisa Taylor 
Director 




Thirteen layers of wallpaper from one wall of the Nathan Beers House, Fairfield, Connecticut 

The earliest pattern, shown on the far right, is a rainbow paper of the i8zos, the colors of the patterned areas blending from yello 

the far left is machine-printed in maroon and green over beige. It dates from the turn of the twentieth century. 
The gift of Edith L. R. Fisher, 1 960-11 1-1 



/ through green to blue. The grape pattern on 




^ A 



"It's the wallpaper or me— one of us 
has to go" Oscar Wilde quipped as he lay 
dying in a Parisian hotel in 1900 — or so a 
friend reported. The Yellow Wallpaper is the 
title of thebest work of fiction by Charlotte 
Perkin's Gilman, America's most percep- 
tive feminist theoretician of the nineteenth 
century. It was published in 1892.. By the 
late nineteenth century, wallpaper, which 
had made its first appearances in the West 
during the sixteenth century, was to be 
found in nearly every house. And such ref- 
erences attest to the fact that it was making 
its impression on a great many minds as 
well. Even the writers of scientific works 
brought wallpaper into their textbooks. 
Finding that wallpaper designs offered 
convenient and familiar examples of struc- 
tural principles, some authors included il- 
lustrations of wallpapers in introductory 
discussions of crystal symmetry and 
space filling. 

Late nineteenth century realistic 
novels are filled with scenes that take place 
in rooms in which wallpaper is noted. As a 
literary motif, wallpaper usually figures as 
a sign of falseness, of shallow pretension, of 
sham in late nineteenth century writings. 
And in Charlotte Perkin's Gilman's chilling 
The Yellow Wallpaper it figures as a living 
presence. Gilman traces stages in the 
growth of derangement within the mind of 
a "neurasthenic" house wife oppressed by 
her "dear John," a husband whose minis- 
trations serve only to frustrate her and to 
intensify her pain. Gilman reveals changes 
in the victim's grip on reality by describ- 
ing her shifting perceptions of the pattern 



5 



i 




Thirteen layers ol wallpaper from one wall of the Nathan Beers House, Fairfield, Connecticut 
llu :earli( stpatti irn, shown on the far right, is. i rainbow paper of the iXios, the colors of the patterned areas blending from yellow through green to blue. The grape pattern on 

the I" left is machine-printed in maroon and green over beige. It dates from the turn of the twentieth century 
The gift of Edith L.R.Fisher, 1960-111-1 



"It's the wallpaper or me— one of us 
lias tti go" Oscar Wilde quipped as he lay 
dying in a Parisian hotel in 1900— or so a 
friend reported. The Yellow Wallpaper is the 
title of the best work of fiction by Charlotte 
Perkin's Gilman, America's most percep- 
tive feminist theoretician of the nineteenth 
century. It was published in 1891. By the 
late nineteenth century, wallpaper, which 
had made its first appearances in the West 
during the sixteenth century, was to be 
found in nearly every house. And such ref- 
erences attest to the fact that it was making 
its impression on a great many minds as 
well. Even the writers of scientific works 
brought wallpaper into their textbooks. 
Finding that wallpaper designs offered 
convenient and familiar examples of struc- 
tural principles, some authors included il- 
lustrations of wallpapers in introductory 
discussions of crystal symmetry and 
space filling. 

Late nineteenth century realistic 
novels are filled with scenes that take place 
in rooms in which wallpaper is noted. As a 
literary motif, wallpaper usually figures as 
a sign of falseness, of shallow pretension, of 
sham in late nineteenth century writings. 
And in Charlotte Perkin's Gilman's chilling 
The Yellow Wallpaper it figures as a living 
presence. Gilman traces stages in the 
growth of derangement within the mind of 
a "neurasthenic" house wife oppressed by 
her "dear John," a husband whose minis- 
trations serve only to frustrate her and to 
intensify her pain. Gilman reveals changes 
in the victim's grip on reality by describ- 
ing her shifting perceptions of the pattern 



5 



on the walls, a pattern which entraps a 
shadowy presence, an image of herself. In a 
final act of lucid madness, she frees that 
shadow-self by ripping the paper off 
the walls. 

While a great many Americans were 
contented and calm within their patterned 
walls, Oscar Wilde's implication that the 
wallpaper was killing him, and Gilman's 
depiction of a character moved to physi- 
cally attack such harmless-seeming stuff, 
are resonant of a general reaction against 
the overuse of pattern that was setting in as 
the turn of the century approached. By this 
time, countless writers had successfully 
promoted the use of multiple patterns and 
borders. Wallpaper appeared in newspa- 
per articles, in lengthy pieces in popular 
magazines as well as in more profound pub- 
lications, and in long chapters in books on 
decorating. Manufacturers were printing 
ever-increasing quantities of paper, which 
they often described in terms of the number 
of times their annual production could cir- 
cle the earth. These manufacturers enlisted 
the talents of major artists and architects to 
design patterns for their printing machines. 
Their celebrated recruits included Louis C. 
Tiffany, Samuel Colman, and John Welborn 
Root in this country, William Burgess, 
E. W. Godwin, Walter Crane and many 
others in England. 

In 1885 the California architects 
Newsom and Newsom declared in Pic- 
turesque California Homes that housepa- 
pering was a standard part of any contract 
for housebuilding and that "white walls 
unrelieved by pattern are relics of bar- 



barism." But by the turn of the twentieth 
century, white walls were becoming sym- 
bols of incipient modernism, or alterna- 
tively, of a new fashion in interior decorat- 
ing that revived preferences for finishing 
walls with light paint colors and architec- 
tural moldings in houses built in classical 
style. A generation of tastemakers that 
included characters as divergent as the 
decorator Elsie De Wolfe and the architect 
Frank Lloyd Wright banished what they 
perceived to have been the oppressive mul- 
tiplicity of patterns familiar in the homes of 
their parents from the rooms of people con- 
cerned either with the principles of a new, 
indeed the "true," architecture, or with the 
chic and fashionable in home decorating. 
After the late nineteenth century pe- 
riod when wallpaper design seems to have 
been of interest to everyone came a period 
when it was dimissed from the thinking of 
the avante-garde and the stylish. During the 
early twentieth century manufacturers con- 
tinued to print wallpaper patterns in ever- 
increasing quantities and the decorating 
trade continued to use it consistently, but 
wallpaper suffered a serious decline in 
status. Recovery from that decline did not 
gain momentum before the 1970s. Many 
who were influenced by the architectural 
theories of the modern movement and by 
the winds of fashion that wafted after the 
close of World War I branded wallpaper as 
passe. They were not shaken in that convic- 
tion until Post-Modernists of the 1970s 
began to substitute a variety of decorative 
finishes for the "honest" white wall of the 
Modernists. As the Post-Modernists have 



turned to examples of historic architecture, 
especially to monuments in a variety of 
classical styles, for many of their recently- 
built houses, so they find they can learn a 
great deal about the ornamenting of walls 
from early patterns. And among their ranks 
a newly enthusiastic audience for the col- 
lection of wallpapers at the Cooper-Hewitt 
Museum can be anticipated. 

This new audience will join long- 
existing and usually specialized audiences 
who constitute users of this archive, the 
finest and most comprehensive collection of 
wallpaper in America, and one of the best 
in the world. Sarah and Eleanor Hewitt, 
founders of what was originally the 
Cooper-Union Museum, began to collect 
wallpaper early in this century. French 
wallpapers of the late eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries formed the bulk of 
their collection. This nucleus acted as a 
magnet that has attracted gifts to the 
Museum ranging from members of the 
wallpaper industry to homeowners who, in 
the process of steaming off old papers, have 
discovered early specimens. 

Architectural preservationists, restor- 
ers, and curators often come across 
wallpapers pasted one atop another in odd 
nooks and crannies of the houses in their 
care. Probing like archaeologists through 
the shallow layers of time papered on the 
vertical surface of a wall, it is not rare to 
find a series like that of thirteen layers illus- 
trated as the frontispiece of this handbook. 
By comparison with specimens in the en- 
cyclopedic collection at the Museum, the 
discoverers of old papers can often date 



and identify what they have found and 
can learn to recognize wallpaper styles 
appropriate to their restorations. 

The grandiosity of wallpaper pat- 
terns is often surprising. Even in simple 
houses, evidence of the use of elaborate 
nineteenth-century designs and of combi- 
nations of wallpaper elements often sur- 
vives. In many houses, the series of patterns 
preserved on a given wall present some- 
what dizzying varieties of approaches to the 
decoration of a wall. Because examples rep- 
resenting a wide spectrum of the theory and 
practice of wallpaper design are available at 
the Cooper-Hewitt, the collection proves 
especially useful to contemporary pattern 
designers. They find here wallcoverings dat- 
ing from the seventeenth century to the 
present. The largest number are French and 
American, but many examples are included 
from other European countries and China. 
In this handbook some representative pa- 
pers chosen from among the more than 
6,000 catalogued samples, sets of papers, 
and samplebooks in the Cooper-Hewitt col- 
lection provide examples of the major 
techniques for adorning the surfaces of 
wallpapers: painting, flocking, wood-block 
printing by hand, roller printing by ma- 
chine, and silk-screen printing. 

In addition, the major approaches to 
embellishing blank walls are suggested. Al- 
though quite different one from another, 
during the past four centuries all have been 
simultaneously present, but each has fluc- 
tuated in fashionable preference. While 
wallpaper manufacturers and house dec- 
orators have devised ambitious wallpaper- 



ing schemes intended to dominate rooms, 
they have also created many others in 
which patterned papers are but subordinate 
elements within interiors. Some wallpapers 
are conceived as harmonious backgrounds 
for other interior decorations, or as minor 
elements within a more important architec- 
tural framework. Still others are designed 
merely as inconspicuous, perhaps textured, 
surfaces upon which to hang pictures, or as 
means of coloring and sealing the walls, or 
of hiding the cracks. The designers of other 
patterns modestly aspired to break the 
monotony of the flat plane of the wall- 
surface with stripes or spots, to entertain 
the eye with flower sprigs or with little pic- 
tures powdered across its expanses. More 
ambitious paper stainers (as wallpaper 
manufacturers were called in the 1 8th cen- 
tury) often created wallpapers to disguise 
walls, either by giving them surface coat- 
ings of what appear to be expensive 
materials — marble, exotic wood, leather, 
lustrous silk, or thick woven tapestry — or 
by covering them with illusionistic repre- 
sentations of scenes and objects that dislo- 
cate the surface. Some of these papers seem 
to pierce the wall so that it becomes a win- 
dow opening on vistas receding into a far 
distance. Others supply fake elements of 
architectural or sculptural embellishment 
that appear to project from the wall, seem- 
ing to impinge on the actual space of the 
room. Decorators have long availed them- 
selves of wallpaper's celebrated poten- 
tial for visually enlarging, contracting, 
heightening or lowering the apparent 
dimensions of walls and ceilings. 



The French reign as the triumphant 
exploiters of possibilities for fooling the eye 
with perspective drawing, atmospheric 
coloring, and skillful manipulation of shad- 
ing in wallpaper. In the 1870s, Messrs. Des- 
fosse et Karth, leading Parisian manufac- 
turers, summed up a principle which had 
guided the industry in France for about a 
century: "Wallpaper being before all else an 
art of falsification, should never give the 
lie to its first destination." 

In face of the long-standing success 
of French paper stainers in marketing 
wallpapers based on just principles, (see 
figures 8-1 1,17) it is doubtless no coinci- 
dence that, during the mid-nineteenth cen- 
tury, many of their less-successful English 
competitors embraced a set of design 
theories that discredited the French prod- 
ucts. By 1850, English manufacturers were 
responding to the assertion, later sum- 
marized by Charles Locke Eastlake in Hints 
on Household Taste (1868), that 

"... common sense points to the fact that as 
a wall represents the flat surface of a solid 
material ... it should be decorated after a 
manner which will belie neither its flatness 
nor solidity. For this reason, all shaded or- 
nament, and patterns, which by their ar- 
rangement of color give an appearance of 
relief, should be strictly avoided. Where 
natural forms are introduced, they should 
be treated in a conventional manner, i.e. 
drawn in pure outline, and filled in with flat 
color, never rounded." 

During the second half of the nineteenth 
century, under the influence of this kind of 
theory, to which a heavy dose of pedantic 




Figure i 

Leather panel, its patterning forming one half of a 

symmetrical horizontal repeat; tooled, painted, 

and decorated with gold leaf. 
Probably Flanders; seventeenth century 
59 inches high; blue background with gold figures in 

relief 
The gift of Harvey Smith, 1966-64-1 



moralizing was appended, the English pro- 
duced a quantity of self-consciously "flat 
patterns" devoid of shadows suggesting a 
third dimension. (See figure 22) Yet between 
the two extremes of illusionistic and self- 
consciously "flat" designs manufacturers 
continued, as they always had, to produce 
quantities of patterns in which they demon- 
strated little concern for consistent logical 
treatment of spatial effects and illusions. 
(See figures 5, 15, 17, 18) A scattering of 
realistic elements appearing to project in 
low relief from the surface of the paper 
might well be punctuated by "openings" 
that afforded a glimpse into a vignetted 
scene receding to a background deep in 
space, a scene illogically repeated countless 
times over the surface of a wall. 

The examples illustrated in this book- 
let must be imagined within their larger 
contexts. These single elements, isolated 
repeats, or parts of suites were themselves 
only elements within architectural contexts 
or decorative schemes incorporating up- 
holstery, curtains, and rugs that matched or 
contrasted with the papers both in color 
and in patterning. Seen in repeat, some of 
these wallpaper motifs formed stripes, 
diamond grids or other geometric config- 
urations. All the repeating patterns, and 
many of the decorative wallpaper elements 
illustrated on these pages, would have been 
used in combination with wallpaper bor- 
ders. Even the wallpaper pictures, and the 
great scenics shown here, were hung with 
wide borders at the top and wallpaper 
dados below the chair rail. Often wallpaper 



columns, pilasters, or patterned borders in- 
troduced vertical divisions to the wall. 



People have long admired the gleam of 
gold in wall decorations, not only because 
its intrinsic value connotes great wealth: its 
light-reflecting qualities multiply the power 
of flickering flames. The irregularity of 
the relief on the tooled surfaces to which 
goldleaf is applied on leather (Figure 1) 
multiplies the faceting of light and adds to 
the lively movement as reflections bounced 
off the angles and curves of these surfaces. 
This seventeenth-century Flemish leather, 
a direct and close ancestor of wallpaper, 
is a tour-de-force of the kind executed by 
skilled workmen in Spain and Flanders for 
the walls of a few of the richest people. Two 
panels were required to make up a full 
repeat of this design: a complementary 
panel — a mirror image of the one shown 
here— would have completed the heavy 
swags of luscious golden fruit and foliage 
upon which great falcons perch over a blue 
background. The luxuriance of the materi- 
als is echoed in the Renaissance decorative 
vocabulary displayed here. 

The low-relief projection in leathers 
of this type was copied not only in late 
nineteenth-century imitations of leather 
(Figure 21) but also throughout the eigh- 
teenth and nineteenth centuries. Paper 
stainers skillfully shaded printed forms on 
flat surfaces to produce a cheaper substitute 
for this kind of wallcovering. Such early 
papers were embellished with gold and 



with other light-reflecting materials includ- 
ing powdered mica or isinglas. 

While a select few used expensive 
leathers and textiles on their walls, some 
early sixteenth-century Europeans were 
beginning to paste and tack up papers 
printed with images and decorative pat- 
terning. The use of paper hangings in the 
West as early as 1509 is documented by a 
paper found on beams in a house in Cam- 
bridge, printed by a book printer of York, 
England. Papers to be hung on walls were 
printed from woodblocks along with end 
papers for books, papers for lining boxes 
and trunks, and playing cards. By the six- 
teenth century French craftsmen called 
dominotiers enjoyed some renown for these 
products. Their name was perhaps derived 
from dominus, an association appropriate 
because members of their guild also pro- 
duced religious images. 

In the mid-eighteenth century, a 
French dominotier used woodblocks to 
print in black ink the outlines of a single 
sheet of patterning shown in figure 2 . 
Then he brushed on watercolor washes 
probably with the aid of stencils. Regu- 
lations imposed at the instigation of rival 
guilds restricted the dominotiers to printing 
on such single sheets, but patterns like this, 
in which the design continues beyond the 
confines of a single sheet, not only appear to 
be conceived as appropriate for walls: they 
have also been found pasted and tacked on 
them. 

Domino papers were made by 
craftsmen whose primary concern for dec- 



Figure 2 

Damask-like wallpaper pattern; wool flocking on a 

varnish ground brushed over joined sheets 

of paper 
England; eighteenth century 
z?'/s inches wide, mustard yellow flocking on a yello 

ground 
The gift of Josephine Howell, 1971-42-187 



orative embellishment had been limited to 
the small surfaces of book covers and box 
interiors. Craftsmen accustomed to design 
and produce textiles that draped more ex- 
pansive surfaces of walls and windows also 
influenced the design of paper hangings. 
Paper stainers preempted not only large 
quantities of designs and craft techniques 
from the textile industry, but they also took 
craftsmen, particularly the woodblock 
carvers and printers. The textile trades had 
developed cheaper substitutes for the most 
expensive hangings at an early date. For 
instance, to imitate luxurious cut velvets 
and woolen piles, they had learned to make 
flocking— powdered cuttings and shavings 
of wool or silk — and to fix flocking on the 
surfaces of textiles, including canvas, with 
adhesives. English and German flocked 
canvas wall hangings of the seventeenth 
century are represented in the Cooper- 
Hewitt collections. By the seventeenth cen- 
tury, those flocked canvas wallhangings 
were supplemented by flocked papers. The 
English became masters in this technique. 

Before decorating such papers they 
glued together, or "joined," individual 
sheets to form rolls twelve feet long. Then 
workmen brushed into the joined sheets a 
coating — "a ground" — of varnish color. 
Adhesive was applied to the areas to be 
flocked, either by painting it on or by 
block-printing patterns of glue over the 
colored paper surface. Finally, they distrib- 
uted the finely-powdered flocking, which 
would stick only to the areas prepared with 
the still-wet adhesive. 











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Figure 3 

Pillar and arch wallpaper pattern with figure of Britan- 
nia; wood-block printed in distemper colors on a 
distemper ground over joined sheets of paper 

Hartford, Connecticut, printed by Zecheriah Mills 
(active 1794-1816), 1794-99 

This paper, bearing the mark of Mills on the reverse, 
was removed from the walls of a house in 
Haddam, Connecticut. 

ii 5 /e inches wide; black and white pattern on blue 
ground 

The gift of Jones and Erwin, Inc., 1970-26-1 



By the eighteenth century the English 
were well-advanced in the craft. The paper 
shown in figure 3 imitates a large-scale 
luxurious silk damask pattern. The matte 
effect of the darker flocking contrasts with 
the shiny golden yellow of the varnished 
background, imitating the contrasts 
achieved by varying the weaves in damasks. 
Wallpaper makers borrowed floral motifs 
from the repertory of textile weavers who 
flattened and simplified the forms, eliminat- 
ing shaded effects of modeling and relief. 

If textiles provided the prototypes for 
the largest numbers of wallpapers, architec- 
tural ornament furnished a great many as 
well. During the eighteenth century, the 
French and English alike printed full scale 
eye-fooling elements of interior trim, paper 
panels for dados intended to look like 
wainscoting and like moldings for chair rail 
and cornice, rosettes to look like plaster 
ceiling centers, borders simulating carved 
and plaster-work frames and other ele- 
ments imitating columns and pilasters. 

Although eighteenth-century crafts- 
men printed conservative and purely classi- 
cal versions of pilasters like the later and 
more elaborate example of figure 1 7, they 
also took architectural motifs, reduced 
their scale, and showed them in repeat (Fig- 
ure 4). Duringthe 1790s, Zecheriah Mills, a 
paper stainer of Hartford, Connecticut, 
block-printed this pattern in exact, though 
reversed, duplication of an English paper. 
An example of its English prototype, found 
in a house in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is 
also in the collections of the Cooper- 
Hewitt. The American reversal of the En- 



Figure 4 

"Domino" paper, a single ungrounded sheet with 

patterning for which the outlines are wood-block 

printed in ink, and the colors tilled in as stencilled 

washes 
France; mid-eighteenth century 
14V4 inches wide; black outlines, yellow, red, and 

blue washes 
The gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt, 192.8-1-77 



glish pattern is the printed result of drawing 
from the original directly onto the face of 
the printing block. The eighteenth-century 
English fondness for shades of gray in 
wallpapers is reflected in the English origi- 
nal, while Mills enhanced his version of it 
with a blue background. 

With the Revolution only two decades 
behind him, it is surprising that an Ameri- 
can would have incorporated the politically 
resonant figure of Britannia into his wall- 
paper pattern, but not at all surprising that 
he would have reproduced the format and 
stylistic characteristics of a familiar and 
still-admired English wallpaper style: 
Other American craftsmen continued to 
emulate English models in architecture and 
furnishing. 

American paper stainers relied almost 
exclusively on English styles throughout 
the Colonial period until French styles 
began to dominate the American wallpaper 
market during the 1790s. The sombre pal- 
ettes of the English and English-inspired 
patterns appear dull in comparison to the 
dazzling array of distemper colors in these 
new French wallpapers. 

French paper stainers, led by Jean 
Papillon (1661-1723) and by his son, 
Jean-Michel Papillon (1698- 1776) refined 
English block-printing techniques. Their 
advances were carried further by Jean- 
Baptiste Reveillon (active 1765-89). 
Reveillon's paper staining establishment 
at the "Folie Titon", a mansion in the 
Faubourg St. Antoine, the paper-staining 
center of Paris, had become a veritable fac- 
tory, employing 300 when its international 




Ml + 



fame was enhanced in 1 7 8 3 : In that year, 
the grounds of the factory served as the 
site for the first balloon ascension by the 
Montgolfier Brothers. In 1784, Louis XVI 
named Reveillon's establishment a "Royal 
Manufactory." During the French Revolu- 
tion, Reveillon fled to England, and in 1791, 
he turned his factory over to Jacquemart 
et Benard. 

The factory's most distinctive contri- 
bution was the high-style arabesque panel 
(Figure 5). It was ultimately based on 
classical sources, but the best-known ara- 
besques were the painted wall decorations 
executed by Raphael at the Vatican. They 
are characterized by central vertical stems 
from which all manner of natural and fan- 
tastic growth springs into graceful curves. 
These are adorned with birds, beasts, and 
insects and frequently interrupted by 
plaques, roundels, architectural elements 
and a wide variety of other fanciful devices. 
In Reveillon's elegant wallpaper arabes- 
ques, dozens of blocks were used to print a 
brilliant but subtle array of colors, most 
frequently over pastel blue grounds. A dis- 
tinctive combination of pastel shades with 
touches of intense pure colors, especially 
orange, appears in the products of Reveil- 
lon's factory. The slender graceful forms 
shimmer on the wall in a realm of shallow 
space, only ambiguously suggested by the 
solid ground color behind them. At reduced 
scale, motifs appropriated from arabesque 
panels were incorporated in repeating pat- 
terns that featured neo-classical elements 
— urns, tripods, relief panels, and tempietti. 
And in examples that deviated playfully 




Figure j 

Arabesque panel, block-printed in distemper colors on 

joined sheets of paper 
Paris, printed at the manufactory of Jean-Baptiste 

Reveillon (active 1765-89), after designs by 

Jean-Baptiste Fay who worked for Reveillon 

between 1775 and 1789; c. 1788 
8 feet 2 inches high; multicolors, including many shades 

of rose and green, on a cream-colored ground 
The gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewett, 1951-2-332. 



Figure 6 

Wallpaper panel painted on two joined sheets of paper. 

from a set including non-repeating but related 

motifs forming a continuous scene 
China, for export; late eighteenth or early nineteenth 

century 
36V4 inches wide, 7 feet 8V2 inches high; blue-gray 

background, green foreground, multicolored 

plants with predominantly pink and white 

blossoms, gray ducks 
The gift of John Judkyn in memory of his mother, 

Florence Judkins, 1954-168-z 




from the classical models, chinoiserie 
motifs were sometimes introduced with an 
eye toward pleasing all tastes. 

Beginning in the early seventeenth cen- 
tury, when ships of the Dutch East India 
Company first brought quantities of 
Chinese goods to the West, the rich and 
powerful developed a taste for Oriental 
arts. Among these, painted, rather than 
printed, papers were greatly admired (Fig- 
ure 6). Based on ancient Chinese paintings 
on scrolls, such papers were always expen- 
sive commodities hung only in the homes of 
the rich; by the eighteenth century they had 
achieved the status of the most desirable of 
wall coverings. Westerners were fascinated 
by the elegantly rendered motifs: flowering 
trees bedecked with exotic birds and insects 
like this example, or landscapes in which 
details of tea cultivation, pottery making, 
the theater, or the activities of daily life in a 
rural village were detailed in vignettes. The 
scenes were stacked one above another so 
that events in the far distance were brought 
up close for inspection. 

Chinese export wallpapers influenced 
Western production of wallpaper during 
the eighteenth century by setting high 
standards for materials, clarity and bright- 
ness of colors, and fastidiousness of ren- 
dered detail. They inspired imitations, both 
painted versions as close to originals as 
Western skills could achieve, and cheaper 
printed imitations. They also served as 
sources for motifs which were often incor- 
porated in repeating patterns of decidedly 
Western format. Whimsical Chinese figures 
often found their way into Gothic arches 



13 




Figure 7 

Wallpaper and paper dado, wood-block printed in 

distemper colors on joined sheets of paper 
England; about 1822 
22% inches wide; yellow patterning on mustard yellow 

ground. The fret work of the dado lavender/gray 
The same pattern in green was used in the King's 

apartments, Royal Pavilion, Brighton, England 

where these unused lengths were found 
The gift of The Brighton Art Gallery and Museum, 

1950-59-1,-2 



and classical garden buildings in wallpa- 
pers printed by French, English, and 
American craftsmen. 

The English wallpapers illustrated as 
figure 7 suggest another way in which 
Chinese designs were westernized. Here 
flattened and abstracted motifs, reminis- 
cent of those embroidered on the silk 
ceremonial robes of Chinese nobility, have 
been worked into sophisticated two- 
dimensional patterns. Duplicate patterns, 
differently colored, were used during the 
1820s in the bedroom of the Prince Regent 
in his Royal Pavillion at Brighton. The 
samples pictured are two of the 12 wallpa- 
pers from the future king's oriental fantasy 
house remodeled by the architect John 
Nash (1752-1835) and decorated by 
Frederick Crace (1779- 1859) during the 
1820s. The wallpapers at Cooper-Hewitt 
are colorful supplements to the museum's 
collection of Crace's original drawings for 
the decorations. 

While such adaptations of Chinese 
motifs as those used at Brighton fluctuated 
in popularity during the nineteenth cen- 
tury, the Chinese flowering tree papers 
retained a solid if sometimes minor place in 
the wallpaper trade which has extended 
even to the present day. They established a 
taste for large-scale, non-repeating scenes 
covering entire walls from chair-rail to ceil- 
ing with colorful decoration. Chinese land- 
scapes whetted Western appetites for the 
narrative and anecdotal qualities which 
wallcoverings could add to interior decora- 
tion. Around 1800 French wallpaper man- 



Figures 

"La Grande Helvetie", portion of a scenic wallpaper 

designed by Antoine Pierre Mongin (1761^82.7); 

Block-printed on strips of continuous, 

machine-made paper 
Rixheim, Alsace, France, printed by Zuber, probably 

during the late nineteenth century, after designs 

first produced 1813-14 
6 feet 4 J /4 inches wide; multicolored with predomi- 
nantly green and shades of tan and brown over 

blue ground 
The gift of Harvey Smith, 1968-130-13 



ufacturers began to block print landscape 
views for customers who could not afford 
the painted Chinese versions, or who pre- 
ferred themes derived from more familiar 
Western sources (Figure 9). 

Evaluated simply as examples of a 
printing technique, these scenic papers 
rank as tours de force of color printing in 
multiple on a scale never before attempted. 
Some full sets covered wall spaces 10 feet 
high with 5 o horizontal feet of non- 
repeating views. Thousands of individu- 
ally-carved woodblocks and hundreds of 
colors were often used to print a single 
scenic paper. When regarded in context, 
covering all the walls of a room from chair 
rail to ceiling with continuous, non- 
repeating scenes rendered in convincing 
perspective, these papers emerge as spec- 
tacular and bold popularizations of the 
painterly arts of illusion, piercing the wall 
surface and opening up a room to all out- 
doors. Householders of the prosperous 
upper middle classes could afford these 
convincing approximations of the art of 
skilled painters. Scenic papers were printed 
in large numbers, and marketed in whole- 
sale quantities all over the world. The 
Zuber factory in Alsace, only one of eight 
or ten major producers of landscape pap- 
ers, shipped its products to 100 dealers in 
the United States during the 1820s and 30s, 
as well as to buyers in India, Hong Kong, all 
the great cities on the European continent, 
Russia, Britain, and South America. 

The subject matter of these papers was 
various: landscapes showing country and 





Figi4re 9 

"Le Chien du Regiment," block-printed wallpaper pic- 
ture mounted on a wooden fire board and framed 
with wallpaper borders 

Rixheim, Alsace, France; printed by Zuber c. 1815-45 

49V2 inches wide, multicolored 

Thisfireboard was part of the furnishings of Ringwood 
Manor, the New Jersey home of the donor 

The gift of Mrs. A.S. Hewitt, 1 907-1 5-4 




Figure 10 

Pair of wallpaper panels imitating drapery, block 
printed and flocked on joined sheets of paper 

Paris, printed by Joseph Dufour (active 1804-1827), 
1810-1812. 

91% inches (7 feet 7%") high, 45 inches wide, rust- 
colored flocked ground, white fabric panels with 
borders and fittings in shades of golden yellow 
and tans 

The gift of Harvey Smith, 1 968-1 11-1 



Figure 1 1 

Wallpaper statue, "Washington" from the series of four, 
"Les Grands Hommes" which included Franklin, 
Lafayette, and Jefferson; Block-printed on con- 
tinuous, machine-made paper 
Paris, printed byJulesDesfosse(i8i6-i889), 18 56-1857 
49V2 inches high, printed in shades of brown and tan 
The gift of Dr. Gertrude Bilhuber, 1949-78-1 



city, mountains and riversides, gardens and 
busy harbors. The scenes they depicted 
were set in Europe as well as in more exotic 
regions — the banks of the Bosporus, jun- 
gles in India, and palaces in China. Some of 
the scenic papers showed historical events 
— Captain Cook's adventures in the South 
Pacific; the early nineteenth century Greek 
war for independence; and Napoleon's 
battles; others illustrated classical myths 
and popular romantic novels. 

The French manufacturers who 
block-printed the wall-sized "long-strip- 
landscapes", as nineteenth-century adver- 
tisements sometimes described them, used 
their facilities to print easle-sized pictures 
as well. In the one shown as figure 9, the 
plight of the regiment's dog, whose wounds 
are being dressed even in the midst of battle, 
was calculated to pluck the heartstrings of 
any sentimentalist. This wallpaper picture 
has been "framed" with wallpaper borders 
and mounted on a wooden board, cut to a 
size to fill a fireplace opening when no fire 
was burning. In addition to their use as 
fireboards, wallpaper pictures of this gen- 
eral size were also popular through most of 
the nineteenth century as overdoor and 
overmantle decorations, indeed as cheap 
pictures to hang on the wall. 

If the use of wallpaper pictures during 
the early nineteenth-century exploited the 
illusionistic possibilities of piercing the 
surfaces of walls, the use of a great many 
equally illusionistic and realistic imitations 
of architectural ornaments and pseudo- 
drapery demonstrated the ways non- 
existent objects might be made to appear to 




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project from the walls. Decorators not only 
hung representations of elaborate draperies 
(Figure 10), but also swagged, festooned, 
tasseled, bejeweled and befeathered 
drapery borders and friezes. Most often 
these were hung at cornice level, even when 
elaborate landscape papers filled the wall 
below. 

French manufacturers also used their 
woodblocks to depict sculptured figures. 
George Washington as shown in figure 1 1 is 
one of the four heroes of the American Rev- 
olution included in the set clearly targeted 
for a specific export market. Classical 
statues were the most popular. The French 
paper stainers also made wallpaper plinths 
on which to display these statues, and pro- 
duced other trimmings for these works of 
art. American dealers and importers some- 
times advertised wallpaper statues "with or 
without niches." 

While the French specialized in such 
trompe I'oeil elaborations of the block- 
printer's art throughout the nineteenth 
century, they and their international com- 
petitors printed patterns intended to reside 
more statically within the viewer's percep- 
tion of the wall surface. The Austrian de- 
signers of the wall decorations illustrated in 
figure 12 were clearly less concerned with 
questions of illusion, and more concerned 
with the problem of space filling and bor- 
dering in a lively and pleasing, if restrained, 
manner. By the early nineteenth century, 
patterns like these had become part of an 
international vernacular, and their descen- 
dants are still famililar in wallpaperpattern 
books of our own day. 



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Figure 12 

Three designs for wall patterning and border decora- 
tions, probably designs for stencilling, but closely 
related to and derived from wallpaper design. 
Each design shows two alternative wall patterns 

Probably Austria, about 182.0 

Purchased in memory of Mary Hearn Greims, 
1940-110-68, -9, -56 



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Figure ij, 

Length of "lrise"* or color shaded wallpaper mounted 
between wallpaper borders, block-printed in 
distemper colors on joined sheets of paper 

France, 1 8 2.0-18 3 5 

1 8 V2 inches wide; pattern in gold and yellow over a 
ground blending in vertical stripes from light blue 
along the edges to deeper blue at center; borders 
in shades of golden yellow with blue flowers 

The gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt, 1931-45-55 



A great many patterns incorporating 
similar motifs were embellished with a col- 
oring technique developed during the 1 820s 
at the Zuber factory in Alsace. It was a 
technique for printing patterns and laying 
on ground colors in skillfully blended shad- 
ings from color to color, giving what Amer- 
icans called a "rainbow" effect. The French 
called their color-blended patterns "irise" 
or "ombre". To achieve the subtle color 
gradations in block-printed patterns, a 
range of colors was brushed onto a surface 
from which the wood block picked up the 
colors, that surface serving much as an ink 
pad does for a rubber stamp. The shifts 
through tones and hues of colors produced 
dramatic optical effects on walls. The col- 
or-shading created a tooled counterpoint to 
the shades in the patterns. In figure 1 3 , a 
pattern in which a colorblended or ombre 
technique has been used for the back- 
ground, is shown between two borders. 

Wider friezes, narrower borders above 
chair rails, and still narrower edgings run- 
ning vertically and over doors, mantles, 
windows, and other architectural features 
of a wall, were used in conjunction with a 
variety of wallpapers. The use of borders 
at cornice or frieze level was all but ubiq- 
uitous in late eighteenth and nineteenth 
century rooms. 

More three-dimensional than the last 
examples, but seeming to exist within the 
confines of a shallow space that appeared to 
project slightly from the wall, were the 
countless realistic floral patterns produced 
during the middle years of the nineteenth 
century. French, English, German, and 



Figure 14 

Floral striped wallpaper, block and machine printed 
on continuous, machine-made paper with a satin- 
finished ground 

Probably France, possibly England, 1835-50 

22 inches wide, bright blue, pink, orange and maroon 
flowers with bright green foliage, scrollwork in 
gray, blue, and gold on satin white ground 

From the early-nineteenth century home of John Early, 
Lynchburg, Virginia 

The gift of Mrs. John Early Jackson, 1969-1 44-1 



American designers delighted in combining 
carefully shaded and intricately detailed 
flowers with scrolls — ornaments derived 
from baroque and rococo sources (Figure 
14). Such designs often formed wide stripes 
when hung on a wall. 

"Scrollwork" was a particular target 
of the derision of critics like Augustus 
Northmore Welby Pugin (1851 - 52), an 
architect and designer who scorned the 
visually illogical use of shaded forms that 
seemed to pierce and to project from walls. 
As he held up medieval architecture as the 
model for contemporary buildings, calling 
Gothic the "true Christian architecture", so 
he cited patterns of the Middle Ages as the 
best sources for wallpaper designs. In his 
own such designs for the Houses of Parlia- 
ment, he adapted motifs from medieval 
wall paintings in which simple abstract 
forms were boldly outlined and filled with 
flat colors and arranged in regular repeats, 
creating a clear geometric order in the 
pattern (Figure 15). 

Although Pugin and a number of other 
influential English critics and reformers of 
design pleaded for the adoption of such 
patterns, the commercial wallpaper indus- 
try apprehended the message that Gothic 
was good, but missed the point of just why 
the reformers thought so. English, French, 
and American wallpaper factories through 
the mid-nineteenth century produced thou- 
sands of "gothick" patterns like that of 
figure 16. Pugin would have viewed it as an 
illogical and trivializing reduction of archi- 
tectural forms to inappropriate uses, piling 
arch over arch, pinnacle over pinnacle 




Figure 15 

Armorial wallpaper designed by A.W.N. Pugin (1812- 

1852) for the family of Washington Hibbert, Bilton 

Grange, Warwick 
England, probably manufactured by William Woolams 

and Company for J.G. Crace (Stamped verso: 

CRACE: 14 WIGMORESTREET/ii);i84I-i8 5 i 
i8'/2 inches wide; primary shades of blue, green and red 

with black outlines on white ground 
The gift of Cole and Son, Ltd., 1953-134-1 





Figure 16 

Striped wallpaper with scrollwork and Gothic 
architectural fragments framing small scenes; 
block-printed over a polished satin ground 
on machine-made paper 
France or England; mid-nineteenth century 
19V2 inches wide; scrollwork and architectural ele- 
ments in shades of brown, foliage and scenery in 
bright green and blue with touches of red 
From the Whipple House, Wentworth, New Hampshire 
The gift of Edwin R. Humiston, 1968-53-1 



without end or reason, and in this case add- 
ing some of the abhorred scrollwork, just to 
cap its offenses. However, a great many 
decorators of the period embraced similar 
composite styles, to judge by the numbers 
of patterns of this kind which survive. 

By the mid-18 30s, the means were 
available for producing ever greater quan- 
tities of wallpaper by machine. Wallpaper 
printing machines incorporated rollers 
with raised printing surfaces, and were 
adaptations of the machines developed for 
printing textiles. Through the middle years 
of the century they churned out thousands 
of variations of patterns like figures 14 and 
16 in a bewildering variety of styles. 

Despite critical English pleas for sim- 
plicity in wallpaper design and for the 
use of two-dimensional patterns, Anglo- 
American decorators continued to buy 
elaborate French architectural fakery. The 
pilaster shown in figure 17 is an element 
from a decor — a set of decorations for a 
room — that included a frieze or cornice and 
a dado. In combination with pilasters they 
would have been used to divide the walls 
into panels. For the centers of some panels, 
repeating patterns were chosen while in 
others, flower-filled wallpaper urns or 
statues were preferred. 




"X 




Figure 17 

Wallpaper pilaster, an element from the panel set 

"Regence" which included dado and cornice 

elements, as well as centers for rhe panels formed 

by the elements imitating architectural details; 

block-printed in distemper colors on continuous, 

machine-made paper 
Paris, printed by Jules Desfosse (1816-89) or by 

Desfosse et Karth (active 1842- 1930s); 1851-65 
22 inches wide; shades of brown and gold on a gray 

ground, with the scenes in shades of blue, lavender. 

green and white 
The gift of A. Germain, 195 5-3-1 



Window shades provided surfaces for 
mid-nineteenth century wallpaper manu- 
facturer's exercises in the arts of illusion. 
Some depicted fake draperies — elaborate 
imitations of velvet and damask curtains 
over sheer white undercurtains, often com- 
plete with lace, tassels and fringes. The 
trade called these window shades "curtain 
papers," although they rolled up as do 
modern shades. The example shown as 
figure 1 8 is the product of wallpaper print- 
ing machines. It commemorates an historic 
event — New York's world's fair of 1853, a 
celebration of the new industrial age. The 
window shade shows the greenhouse-like 
structure which was built on the site of the 
present New York Public Library in imita- 
tion of London's Crystal Palace of 18 51. 

The New York Crystal Palace was a 
showplace for American wallpapers, but 
English and various European manufac- 
turers were also represented there, and their 
products were sold quite successfully in this 
country. French papers continued to domi- 
nate international fashion, but during the 
middle years of the century a group of 
wallpapers imported from Germany en- 
joyed a vogue in this country, as well as in 
France and England. They exploited tech- 
niques developed to emboss intricately 




Figure iS 

Window shade or "curtain paper" commemorating 

the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853; 

printed on wallpaper-printing machines on a single 

length of machine-made paper 
United States; 1853 
34V2 inches wide; white and brown over a ground of 

colors blending in vertical stripes from blue on 

either side through gray and green to a central stripe 

of red 
Purchased in memory of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt, 

1944-66-1 



Figure 2 

"Pimpernel" wallpaper pattern, designed by William 

Morris (1834-1896); block-printed in distemper 

colors on machine-made paper 
England; printed about 1934 after design of 1S76 
22 Vi inches wide; yellow, off-white, shades of grayed 

green and blue on a dark green ground 
The gift of Cowtan and Tout, Inc., 1935-23-18 




Figure 19 

Gilded and embossed wallpaper wood-block printed on 
machine-made paper; elements stamped in relief 
with gold enframing scenes painted in distemper 

Germany; mid-nineteenth century 

zoVa inches wide; white, brown on grey ground, 
painted distemper scenes in polychrome 

The gift of the Misses Hewitt, 1931-45-74 




detailed motifs in 14 karat gold onto the 
wallpaper surface. These were soon being 
imitated internationally. In contrast to 
many densely-packed patterns of the pe- 
riod, the most popular among the German 
embossed gold papers featured relatively 
small-scale and isolated motifs, spotted 
over white or stone-colored grounds. 

By the 1870s, English wallpapers were 
flooding the international market, in large 
part because of the popular success of 
designs by William Morris (Figure zo). His 
abstract and stylized motifs drawn from 
nature rendered his patterns flat enough to 
suit the English critics, while his naturalism 
attracted those who had always loved flow- 
ers on their walls. Morris had his first 
wallpapers printed in 1864. He was 
best-known among a number of English 
designers whose wallpapers finally out- 
shone those of the French in the eyes of 
the fashionable. 

Dr. Christopher Dresser, trained as a 
botanist, was nearly as well known as 
Morris for his wallpaper designs. While 
Morris, following Pugin's principles, 
valued hand-craftsmanship over machine 
production and preferred block printing to 
the new machine printing techniques, 




*5 




Figure 21 

Wallpaper dado or frieze designed by Christopher 

Dresser (1834-1902.) in an Anglo-Japanesque 

manner; machine-printed on machine-made 

paper 
England or United States; about 1880 
2.9 inches high; metallic gold, black, and deep red on 

a gray ground 
The gift of Wilmer Moore, 1941-17-1 



Dresser enthusiastically embraced the idea 
of designing for machines. He was, in fact, a 
pioneer in industrial design. Morris had 
looked to the middle ages for design inspi- 
ration, but Dresser and a number of other 
avante-garde designers in England turned 
to Japan (Figure 21). In the art of Japan, 
Dresser and his colleagues re-discovered 
abstract, two-dimensional forms, devel- 
oped and refined through the centuries in 
both fine and decorative arts. Japanese pat- 
terned textiles were among the most impor- 
tant sources for stylish English wallpapers 
of the 1870s and 80s. The English popular- 
ized Japanese motifs for wallpapers, but 
gave them a distinctive touch which led 
American journalists to describe the style 
as "Anglo-Japanesque." 

In Figure 22, another example of the 
Anglo-Japanesque is rendered in three- 
dimensional relief imitative of embossed 
leather, the material with which this brief 
overview began. Here a style created by 
designers preoccupied with the elimination 
of three-dimensional illusion is, ironically, 
rendered in three dimensions. The material 
is in fact neither leather nor paper, but a 
composition closely akin to linoleum, and 



26 



like linoleum, based on linseed oil. It was 
called "Lincrusta," and advertised as "the 
indestructible wallcovering". From the 
time of its invention in England in 1877 
until the 1 920s it was one of the most pop- 
ular wall coverings sold by wallpaper 
dealers. Lincrusta had many competitors. 
Some were, in fact, paper products. 
"Japanese Leather Paper" was one of the 
most widely distributed among them. 
Made in Japan, it was usually gilded and 
oiled as well as colored and embossed in 
deceptively realistic imitation of leather. 
Some examples looked like Spanish, 
Flemish, or Italian examples of the seven- 
teenth century; others were more purely 
Japanese in design. 

Designers of Art Nouveau patterns 
carried into the twentieth century the 
nineteenth-century concern to create non- 
illusionistic two-dimensional patterns. For 
the attenuated forms and agitated whip- 
lash lines that characterize French and 
Belgian Art Nouveau patterns, English de- 
signers like C. F. A. Voysey and his Ameri- 
can imitators substituted more placid 
curves, and fuller, broader forms (Figure 
23). Such patterns, and many others pro- 




Figure ll 

Lincrusta- Walton wallcovering with Anglo-Japanese 

patterning molded in relief 
England; 1 880-1 890 in the style of Bruce Talbert 

(1838-81) 
From the dining room of the John Davison Rockefeller 

House, 4 West 54th Street, New York 
18V2 inches wide; metallic gold on deep red ground 
The gift of John Davison Rockefeller, Jr., 1937-57-3 



2-7 




Figure i$ 

Tulip pattern wallpaper designed by the architect 

Charles Francis Annesley Voysey {1857-1941); 

machine printed on machine-made paper 
England, printed by Essex and Company; 1893-5 
2.1 inches wide; shades of green and yellow on blue 

ground 
The gift of Dr. Francis Gech, 1980-73-1 



duced in England and America, owe a large 
debt to the floral and foliate patterning of 
William Morris, and to the patterns of 
another English designer of the late 
nineteenth century, Walter Crane, whose 
wallpapers are also represented in the 
Cooper-Hewitt collections. These designs 
are clearly related to the scrolls and curves 
of eighteenth-century rococo forms, yet 
equally evident is the concern of their de- 
signers to create an original, non-revival 
style. 

Despite the Modernist's devotion to 
the white wall, some designers influenced 
by ideas of architectural Modernism felt 
a need for patterning appropriate to 
houses whose creation was dominated by 
functionalist concerns. Like the creators of 
Art Nouveau patterns, many of them, espe- 
cially in Austria and Germany, continued to 
design according to some of the principles 
laid down by English theorists of the nine- 
teenth century who demanded abstract, 
strictly two-dimensional, non-illusionistic 
(i.e. "honest") wallpaper patterns. And 
again like the creators of Art Nouveau 
designs, they strove for originality and 
inventiveness in their wallpapers. Figure 24 



Figure 14 

"Mariza" wallpaper pattern with cubist influence; 

probably block-printed on machine-made paper 
Vienna, printed by the Wiener Werkstatte; about 1910 
29 Vb inches wide; shades of grey, green, yellow and blue 
The gift of Dr. Francis Geek, 1980-73-2. 



illustrates one among the many types of 
patterns that resulted from attempts to rec- 
oncile the sometimes contradictory de- 
mands of modernist theorists with the love 
of pattern and the tastes of the consuming 
public. 

While many customers wanted some- 
thing "modern" in wallpaper design, a 
great many others chose wallpaper patterns 
that were self-conscious revivals of earlier 
styles. Not only in America, with its Colo- 
nial Revival dating back as far as 1876, 
but also in Britain, France, and the other 
European countries, decorators created a 
steadily increasing market for a series of 
revival styles, including the neo-rococo, the 
Adamesque, and the neo-Renaissance. 
Wallpaper manufacturers recapitulated 
and adapted in new guises the succession of 
decorative styles surveyed here. The mar- 
ket for reproduction patterns has grown 
steadily since the 19ZOS, encouraged by the 
taste for Colonial Williamsburg's patterns, 
and for a succession of other museum 
recreations of early styles. 

The Cooper-Hewitt continues to col- 
lect examples of historic as well as of 
contemporary wallpapers, attempting to 




2-9 



Figure 15 

Cows wallpaper designed by Andy Warhol (1930- ); 

silk-screened on machine-made paper 
United States, printed by Bob Miller; 1972. 
147V2 inches wide; pink and dark blue on light blue 

ground 
The gift of Andy Warhol, 1980-69-1 



preserve fine examples representative both 
of relatively typical current decorating 
tastes as well as of the innovative and 
trend-setting. Among the many develop- 
ments of recent years within the wallpaper 
industry, the use of new materials and tech- 
niques are striking. Metallic foils of the 
1960s remind us of the beloved glimmers of 
gold dating back to seventeenth-century 
leathers. Refinements in technique include 
complex improvements of printing ma- 
chines ranging from the use of photo- 
graphically-generated aluminum rollers to 
computerized controls. In the part of the 
industry that caters to special orders and 
small-run, high-fashion designs, refine- 
ments in techniques for silk screen printing 
have marked recent years. The use of silk 
screens — very sophisticated stencils — on 
an appreciable scale in the wallpaper indus- 
try dates to the close of World War II. 

Some of the most interesting stylistic 
developments in wallpaper design of recent 
years are closely intertwined with move- 
ments in the fine arts. Just as wallpaper 
manufacturers of the 1870s and 80s en- 
listed established artists to design wallpa- 
pers, a number of manufacturers have re- 
cently commissioned designs (Figure 25). 



But in addition, the emergence of styles in 
painting and sculpture that are in them- 
selves decorative and in some cases even 
wallpaper-inspired, have perhaps served to 
raise consciousness of the visual possi- 
bilities for covering walls with paper. Super 
graphics and pop art of the 1960s made 
many people look again at the wallpapers 
from which the paintings themselves ap- 
pear to have derived a great deal, some- 
times in terms of sheer wall-covering capac- 
ity, sometimes because the paintings were 
made up of repeating, patterned images. In 
the galleries, the presence of so many paint- 
ings that covered whole walls probably 
contributed to the rehabilitation of the 
status of wallpaper. And the tendency of 
many recent artists to enlarge scale, to blow 
up the insignificant and ordinary to a size 
that in itself lends monumentality to the 
lowliest of objects, has in turn suggested 
enlargement of scale in motifs printed on 
papers. The oversized cow-heads in 
Warhol's paper reflect this. 

Looking again at Warhol's wallpaper 
cows suggests how strongly repeating im- 
ages on wallpapers have influenced modern 
artists, not only Warhol with his rows of 
soup cans or Marilyn Monroe faces in 



paintings that pre-date the bovine wallpa- 
per, but also artists whose importance has 
been as staggering as that of Picasso. Picas- 
so's collages of the 'teens incorporate any 
number of actual samples of wallpaper, and 
his painted images for years thereafter in- 
clude painted echoes of these patterns. 

These instances reconfirm the power of 
wallpaper to contribute to and gain inspira- 
tion from the architect, the sculptor, and 
the painter, and attest to the intimate inter- 
connections of wallpaper with the other 
decorative arts. Because early in this cen- 
tury the Hewitt sisters recognized the 
worth of wallpaper, even though it was not 
among the valuable "collectibles" eagerly 
sought and traded by stylish connoisseurs 
of their era, we now have at the Cooper- 
Hewitt Museum a major collection which 
many kinds of artists, students, and visitors 
may study and simply enjoy. 

— Catherine Lynn 



Short Selected Bibliography Aslin ' Elizabeth The Aesthetic Movement. 
of, New York: Praeger, 1969. 

Clark, Fiona. William Morris: Wallpapers and 
Chintzes. London: Academy, 1973. 

Dornsife, Samuel A. "Wallpaper." The Ency- 
clopaedia ofVictoriana, edited by Harriet 
Bridgeman and Elizabeth Drury. New 
York: Macmillan, 1975. 

Durant, Stuart. Victorian Ornamental Design. 
New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972. 

Entwisle, Eric A. The Book of Wallpaper. 
London: Arthur Barker, 1954. 

. French Scenic Wallpapers 1800-1860. 

Leigh-on-Sea, England: F. Lewis, 1972. 

. A Literary History of Wallpaper. 



London: B. T. Batsford, 1960. 

Wallpapers of the Victorian Era. 



Leigh-on-Sea, England: F. Lewis, 1964. 

Frangiamore, Catherine Lynn. Wallpapers in 
Historic Preservation. Washington, D.C.: 
National Park Service, 1977. 

. "Wallpaper: Technological Innovation 

and Changes in Design and Use." Techno- 
logical Innovation and the Decorative 
Arts: Winterthur Conference Report, 
1973, pp. 277-305. Charlottesville, Va.: 
University Press of Virginia, 1974. 

Greysmith, Brenda. Wallpaper. New York: 
Macmillan, 1976. 

Hotchkiss, Horace. "Wallpapers Used In 
America, 1700-1850." The Concise En- 
cyclopedia of American Antiques. 2 vols, 
edited by Helen Comstock. New York: 
Hawthorne Books, 1958. Vol. 2, pp. 
488ff. 



Justema, William. Pattern: A Historical 
Panorama. Boston: New York Graphic 
Society, 1976. 

. The Pleasures of Pattern. New York: 

Reinhold, 1968. 

Lynn, Catherine. Wallpaper in America. 
New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum 
and the Barra Foundation, 1981. 

McClelland, Nancy V. Historic Wall-Papers 
from Their Inception to the Introduction of 
Machinery. Philadelphia and London: 
J.B. Lippincott Company, 1924. 

Musee des Arts Decoratifs. Trois Siecles de 
Papiers Peints. Paris: Musee des Arts 
Decoratifs, 1967. 

National Trust for Historic Preservation in the 
United States. Documented Reproduction 
Fabrics and Wallpapers. Washington, 
D.C.: National Trust, 1972. 

Roth, Rodris. "Interior Decoration of City 
Houses in Baltimore: The Federal Pe- 
riod." Winterthur Portfolio 5 , pp. 59-86. 
Charlottesville, Va.: The University Press 
of Virginia for the Henry Francis du Pont 
Winterthur Museum, 1969. 

Sanborn, Kate. Old Time Wall Papers. Green- 
wich, Conn.: The Literary Collector 
Press, 1905. 

Sugden, Alan V, and Edmondson, J.L. A 
History of English Wallpaper, 1509-1914. 
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925; 
London: B. T Batsford, 1926. 

Whitworth Art Gallery. Historic Wallpapers in 
the Whitworth Art Gallery. Manchester, 
England: The Whitworth Art Gallery, 
1972. 



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